A hot-button issue in the auto repair industry is “Right to Repair” legislation, an initiative pushed by independent repair shops and consumer advocacy groups. If passed, Right to Repair laws would force auto manufacturers to provide proprietary information about new vehicles to all repair shops – not just to dealerships affiliated with that manufacturer.
The claim that independents are at a disadvantage right now is understandable. Because vehicle technology is increasingly sophisticated and computerized, independents (imagine a mom-and-pop repair center) find it difficult to diagnose and repair the newest models. The diagnosis process for new vehicles is as much about extracting and understanding data as it is about getting under the hood and poking around.
Today, tire retailers joined the anti-dealership chorus by pointing to the difficulty they face in following changes to Tire Pressure Monitoring Systems (TPMS), which become more advanced with each vehicle edition.
Meanwhile, auto manufacturers contend that data required for new vehicle repair is already accessible.
What are the implications for ClearMechanic? A few, we believe. First, when some form of this legislation passes, dealers will face stiffer competition in the 1- to 3-year old vehicle repair market. Because independents are generally low-cost providers, dealers will need to continue distancing themselves from independents on convenience and quality of service. Introducing web-based services like ClearMechanic will be key differentiators for dealer service centers.
Second, independents and other non-dealership repair centers will begin to have access to a customer demographic they’ve rarely touched: the new car owner. If a Right to Repair bill passes, a price-sensitive car owner may use the dealer for on-warranty repairs and an independent for off-warranty items. This customer base may begin to demand some of the service characteristics they’ve become accustomed to at dealerships – items as simple as a waiting area or as complex as repair status updates. ClearMechanic will be necessary for independents to achieve many of these service qualities.